The wife of an Army captain killed in Iraq says that she feels only "sadness" and "shock" that the jihadist behind the vicious attack was cleared of charges -- and could be freed by an Iraqi court in the coming days.
Charlotte Freeman told FoxNews.com this morning, "It was like a pit (opening) inside of me," when she learned Wednesday night that Ali Musa Daqduq had been cleared May 7 of masterminding the operation that felled Capt. Brian Freeman in 2007.
"I briefly read it and couldn’t read on. I couldn’t go there,” she said. “It wasn't like he was dying again. It was more shock that these people get away with what they do. There’s no justice. It’s amazing and shocking to me that someone who did what he did could go free.”
Allied forces captured Daqduq about a month after the 2007 attack on a provincial governor's fortified compound in Karbala, south of Baghdad. The Lebanese native was then turned over in December 2011 to Iraqi authorities under a 2008 agreement between that country's government and the U.S., in which Iraqi insurgents would be extradited and tried in their native country.
“It wasn't like he was dying again."
- Charlotte Freeman
Several lawmakers, citing Daqduq's Lebanese ancestry, have since criticized the Obama administration for his release, saying that he should have been held in Guantanamo Bay, and tried by a U.S. military tribunal. Several congressmen from the House Judiciary Committee wrote Obama in protest this week.
A senior administration official told Fox News the U.S. strongly opposes Daqduq's acquittal, but respects the independence of the Iraqi judiciary. The official also said Daqduq remains in custody and that U.S. officials continue to work with Iraqi officials to pursue all legal options.
The official restated the administration's position that it was legally obligated under the 2008 security agreement to transfer Daqduq into Iraqi custody, but only after assurance he would be held accountable for his crimes.
The Jan. 20, 2007, killings reportedly occurred when a convoy of SUVs that looked like one belonging to U.S. forces cleared several checkpoints to reach a government compound that include an American security team. Once inside the base, the vehicle occupants, wearing U.S. uniforms, fatally shot one soldier and kidnapped four others, who were later killed. Daqduq was reportedly captured about a month later in Basra.
Charlotte Freeman, as well as Capt. Freeman's biological mother and his stepfather, aren't casting blame. They said that although news of the verdict "saddened them," as Freeman put it, they never counted on getting justice from a nation only now emerging from more than a decade of war.
Charlotte Freeman even testified during the court proceeding via satellite feed, acting as something of a character witness for her fallen husband. She told the judge how Brian Freeman wanted to help rebuild the nation. When he died, Capt. Freeman was engaged in helping Iraqi beekeepers, as well as getting medical attention for an 11-year-old boy, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“He was rebuilding schools and roads and that type of work. I felt like the judge was very sympathetic,” Charlotte Freeman told FoxNews.com. “I had more hope that there would be some charges brought against (Daqduq) for something.
“I wasn’t looking for vengeance, but closure,” Charlotte Freeman said, adding that testifying at the trial did give her a measure of peace. “I don’t think I’ll ever feel complete closure. I’ll miss and love him. The pain doesn’t go away.”
Freeman’s biological mother, and the stepfather who raised him from the age of 8, echoed Charlotte’s sentiments.
“It doesn’t surprise me,” said Kathleen Snyder, Freeman’s 62-year-old mother, a retired school worker who now lives in Utah . “This man is nothing but the (personification) of the horrors and evils of war. And this is what happens in war.
“I feel empty,” she added. “Nothing can bring our son back and nothing can bring back the 100,000 people who died in this war. It’s example of the futility of trying to change the world. We need to take care of America first.”
Charlotte Freeman, meanwhile, struggles with what she says is the toughest time of the year.
“I’m sad," she said. "May 1 was my wedding anniversary. His birthday is coming up in June. Father’s Day is coming up.
"I just feel sadness. Unfortunately, these things happen when we’re at war, and there really isn’t justice in this type of situation. Even if they had held him and charged him, it doesn’t bring my husband back. It doesn’t bring my kids’ father back.”